Maestro Classics - I've Got A Secret...
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Really I think that this secret has already been revealed. I think you all know that I was a music major for a while in college and that I play a number of different instruments - none of them very well anymore.
Well, being such a lover of music myself, I'm always looking for ways to instill that love in my children. Last year we were chosen to review Maestro Classics' The Tortoise and the Hare for the TOS Homeschool Crew. Maestro Classics is a great company that was started by conductor Stephen Simon and his wife Bonnie Ward Simon. The Tortoise and the Hare was my children's first exposure to classical music and they really learned a lot.
This year, I was very excited that we were chosen to once again review an item from Maestro Classics. This time it was one of my favorites, Peter and the Wolf. And, what a difference a year makes. Last year, although the kids learned a lot, they didn't quite know what to think about this new type of music. This year they were ready and loved it. I was really surprised at how much they got into it.
Maestro Classics is a great company. Every "story in music" that they put together is exciting and very well done. Peter and the Wolf began with an introduction that explained what to listen for in the story. It hi-lighted the different characters and the musical representation of each character.
Then it launched right in to the story, narrated by Yadu with the music being played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was so much fun hearing my children blurt out what character the music represented at different times during the story. I allowed my children to play quietly while listening. Periodically, I would ask them questions to make sure that they were listening and, indeed, they would either tell me exactly what was going on, or urge me to be quiet so that they could hear. After the story was over, my asperger's syndrome son, Joshua, commented "I just love these CD's". I was truly amazed at the enthusiasm of all of my children.
But that's not all! After the main story, Bonnie Ward Simon gave an excellent and really exciting biography of the composer of Peter and the Wolf, Russian born Sergei Prokoliev. If you don't think that the biography of a composer could be interesting, you need to hear Ms. Simon! I, at least, was entranced.
The Simons know how to keep your attention. They intermingle different things into their CD's to make them fun. However, even though they are fun, they are also educational. The next section of the CD was titled "A Russian Peter" and had traditional Russian instruments playing the Peter theme. It was fascinating to hear the already familiar Peter music being played by the "Trio Voronezh" using Russian instruments. It gave all of us a wonderful in-site into the music of that country.
Think we're done yet? Think again! After we had an introduction to the music, heard the story, learned about the composer, and had a great time listening to a different version of the Peter theme, Stephen Simon gave us a little more detail about the music. He pointed out subtle changes that the composer put into the music. Then we listened to the whole story again, but this time with no narration, only the music. Now that the kids have learned so much, they were really ready to listen to the selection again to see if they could hear the musical intricacies.
Finally, we are invited to Grandfather's party where the Trio Voronezh plays another traditional Russian tune titled "Kalinka".
Wow! You would think that all of that must take hours to listen to and wonder how your children would ever pay attention to it all. Actually, the entire CD is only a little over 68 minutes. But, lest you think that the CD is the only exciting thing, think again. There is also a wonderful 24 page booklet filled with more information on the composer, Sergei Prokoliev, the Trio Voronezh, the narrator, Yadu, and the Simons themselves. AND (yes there is even more) there are puzzles, more information on Peter and the Wolf, pictures and information on the different instruments used to represent the characters, and more information on traditional Russian music and instruments.
Let me tell you, that these CD's are very much worth their price of $16.98. They are great way to introduce children of all age to classical music and great composers. Maestro Classics has other great CD's in their "Story's in Music" series. To hear samples of this CD and the other CD's or for more information on how to purchase them, you can click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above (you have got to hear the Elvis version of "O Juanita" from Juanita the Spanish Lobster). Also, if you want to know what the other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew think of this series, you can click here. Now, since these are great for all kids, not just homeschooled children, I'll close with...Happy Home Educating!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of "Peter and the Wolf" to use and review on my blog.
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